The last time they met, with mere neighborhood bragging rights on the line, Badin and Ross teamed up to produce an overtime football thriller that ended in a one-point win for Ross.
What happens in the rematch with something more tangible at stake?
Fourth-seeded Badin (7-3) and fifth-seeded Ross (8-2) – teams that share a zip code and a nickname – are scheduled to face off on Friday at Hamilton High School’s Virgil Schwarm Stadium in the first round of Ohio’s Division III, Region 12 playoffs.
Badin coach Nick Yordy and Ross coach Kenyon Commins, good friends who enjoy exchanging good-natured jibes verbally and by text, agree that the atmosphere is going to be electric.
“It’s going to be a big one,” Yordy said on Tuesday. “The kids are excited. Both communities are excited. The game’s big enough in Week One. In this situation, playing in the first round doesn’t happen very often. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. For these kids at both schools to be able to be a part of that – it’ll be a night to remember.”
“A lot of these kids grew up playing together,” Commins added. “Any time the communities are this close together, it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the winner advances to face the winner of Friday’s game between top-seeded Chaminade Julienne and eighth-seeded Alter at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 at a site still to be determined.
Badin struggled offensively in the first meeting Aug. 30 in both teams’ season-opener, generating less than 150 yards of total offense. Ross was led by junior quarterback C.J. Boze’s 113 rushing yards. Badin junior quarterback Zach Switzer completed 8 of 10 passes for 84 yards.
Badin won seven of its last eight games, including the last three. The only loss in that stretch was to division-champion Chaminade Julienne. The Rams enjoyed an average margin of 28.9 points in their last seven wins with no margin below 24 points. They finished among the GCL Co-Ed’s top three teams in total offense, rushing, passing and points per game.
“If you look around the region and you see what they did, they did a lot of soul-searching after starting 0-2,” Commins said. “That’s one heck of a coaching job. I think they found their identity. They looked for it after the first two weeks, after losing to us and Talawanda. They’re a completely different team from Week 1.
“The same with us,” he added. “We’re not changing our scheme. We’ll still run the triple-option, but we’ve added quite a few wrinkles.”
Ross ranks among the SWOC’s top three teams in total offense, rushing yardage and points and total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense while appearing to be vulnerable through the air, ranking just sixth in pass defense among the conference’s seven teams.
Ross, which has won two straight games and five of the last six, is making its seventh overall playoff appearance and first since 2011 while looking for its first win. Badin is making its second consecutive playoff appearance and 24thoverall.
Yordy isn’t sure how much a role losing so narrowly in Week 1 will play in Week 11.
“It was a good game – back and forth,” he said “We’re prepared. As far as motivation from Week 1 to right now, a lot of things have happened. They’re running their offense different. We’ve changed our offense as well. We try not to think a whole lot about it.”
Commins doesn’t expect the season-opening win or Ross’s lack of playoff experience to be much of a factor.
“I kind of said earlier in the year,” he said. “Our team – I’ve been coaching football for 18 years, and they’re just different. There’s something about this team. They’ve become unflappable. They’re a pretty loose bunch. They get it from the seniors. We had a phenomenal day (on Monday) in practice. The kids were loose and excited. They were as locked in as they could be.
“Our temperament doesn’t change a lot. We’re a pretty even-keeled group. We’re a little bit more focused.”
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